Dallas city council supports subway extension over Cotton Belt proposal

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DALLAS, Texas — After several hours of debate, the Dallas City Council voted in support of a resolution prioritizing Dallas Area Rapid Transit's subway expansion through downtown Dallas.

The D2 alignment is intended to relieve a choke point where all four of DART's light rail routes converge near the West End Station by rerouting the different trains onto separate tracks. The alignment will increase overall system capacity, and will connect museums, government buildings, and other attractions in the downtown Dallas area to the light rail system.

The city council's support for the D2 expansion comes at the expense of fast-tracking the Cotton Belt Route, which proposes to build a light rail link between Dallas' northern suburbs of Plano and Addison to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The Great Recession pushed the estimated completion of the Cotton Belt line to approximately 2035, but communities along the route have pushed for its construction to be expedited after experiencing rapid population growth.

“We’re not saying no to Cotton Belt. We’re saying 'time out.' Let’s do a few other things before we get there,” Dallas Councilman Rickey Callahan told the region’s NBC affiliate.

DART's draft of the D2 plan also presented a street-level alternative route that was projected to be less expensive — the Dallas News reported in September that the subway could cost up to $1 billion dollars — but residents and businesses located along its proposed route argued that the noise from the trains and amount of space that would need to be dedicated to the tracks would have a negative impact on the area's economy and culture. The ¾-mile tunnel would be the second subway route and underground station after Cityplace Station in the Uptown neighborhood. Since Downtown Dallas is one of the few areas in the region that has geography to support subways, the rest of the stations are elevated or at ground level.

DART representative Mark Ball called the vote "expected." The agency will finalize the route for the D2 alignment by Oct. 25, when the city council is expected to approve a 20-year budget that will provide funding for the expansion and several other projects.

The D2 alignment is projected to open for service by 2021.
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